Named in honor of America’s armed forces, Freedom Center in Huntsville, Alabama, contributes to the current revitalization of its area. Integrating renovation and new construction, the Center features a new state-of-the-art conference facility designed by the Huntsville firm of Matheny Goldmon Architecture + Interiors.
The new conference facility connects two existing buildings which date back to the 1980s and have undergone extensive renovation. These buildings house the headquarters for Freedom Real Estate & Capital LLC, a commercial real estate investment firm, and Torch Technologies, which provides research, development and engineering services for the Department of Defense.
As the connecting element, the 13,000-square-foot Freedom Center Conference Facility is obviously the focal point, and the architects wanted to enhance it as the primary entrance. They achieved this with a translucent canopy 75’6” long by 9’6” deep, engineered by Duo-Gard using its Series 3800 Long-Span System.
“Duo-Gard designed this system to free-span larger distances with fewer structural components, thus providing a cost savings to the customer,” says engineer Frank Kosciolek, architectural services operations manager. “And it has the flexibility that allows us to easily achieve unusual shapes, such as the wedge-shaped glazing panels for the Center.”
For the Center’s canopy, the system integrated 25mm triplewall polycarbonate in an opal tint with clear anodized aluminum framing. A slight curvature allows it to follow the bend in the street, further defining the entrance. Water management by Duo-Gard included gutters and downspouts.
“This translucent canopy reflects modern design as well as allowing light transmittance,” says Marc Goldmon, principal-in-charge, project manager and designer. “The light weight of the polycarbonate helped accommodate our steel structure cost effectively.”
Despite its light weight, the multiwall polycarbonate is virtually shatterproof, yet weighs 1/6 as much as glass, while delivering high-quality diffused light.
Architect Goldmon says this is the first time he’s worked with translucent polycarbonate: “I’m happy with the result, and the owner likes it.”
Project collaborators included Turner Construction, general contractor.